Canada has yet to win a medal in the FIBA World Cup since it was first held in 1950, but this year’s team should give them their best chance yet at securing a podium finish.
Team Canada has emerged as a dark horse contender to take home the gold medal at the FIBA World Cup with Jamal Murray of the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets set to suit up for them. This marks the first time that he will don Canada’s colors since the 2015 Pan American Games where he was still only 18 years old.
Today, the 26-year-old Murray has matured into one of the most lethal perimeter scorers in all of basketball and his presence alone provides Team Canada with enough firepower to compete with the best teams on the planet.
However, what makes Canada even more fearsome is that Murray will not be going into battle alone. Joining him on Team Canada’s recently released training camp roster is 2023 All-NBA First Team guard and one-time NBA All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who is fresh off a regular season that saw him put up 31.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.6 steals in 68 appearances.
The presence of these two elite scorers in Canada’s backcourt will make them a tough match-up for even the best teams in the world. Murray and Gilgeous-Alexander will also be flanked by a strong supporting cast that is filled with their contemporaries.
Joining them on Team Canada are active NBA players RJ Barrett, Dillon Brooks, Lu Dort, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Kelly Olynyk, Dwight Powell, Oshae Brissett, and Cory Joseph. They will also be joined by Purdue University’s Zach Edey and Euroleague veterans Kevin Pangos, Kassius Robertson, Phil Scrubb, and Thomas Scrubb.
Canada’s perimeter-oriented roster should have no problem putting points on the board with Murray, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Barrett onboard. The presence of defensive stalwarts such as Brooks, Dort, and Alexander-Walker is a definite plus as well. Though Team Canada lacks a strong interior presence, the duo of Olynyk and Powell should be able to contribute enough support to this team’s cause.
The best finish by a Canadian team in the FIBA World Cup (Known as the FIBA World Championship until 2010) was sixth place which they achieved in 1978 and 1982. In the previous edition held last 2019 in China, Canada fielded a roster bereft of the aforementioned NBA players and wound up an underwhelming 21st place.
This time around, it is beginning to look like a sixth place finish will be taken as a disappointment with Murray, Gilgeous-Alexander, and the rest of their NBA players onboard. Team Canada not only has its best chance to finally win a medal this year, but also to take home the highly-coveted gold medal when it is all said and done.
Canada has seen a spike in its number of NBA players in recent years and it may finally pay off with some hardware come next month’s FIBA World Cup.